Object Selection tool

Adobe / Strategic vision, User research, Product design, Prototyping / 2022, 2019


The Object Selection tool is a groundbreaking feature in Photoshop that automatically selects the borders of objects in an image. It simplifies the process of selecting objects and marks a shift from pixel-based to object-based image editing. The tool is designed primarily for image retouchers who need to select objects in images for their work.

Demo: Object Selection tool

Project Overview

As the lead product designer for the Object Selection tool, the goal was to create a vision that integrates AI and machine learning into the selection process, providing shortcuts to accomplish tasks and refine results for better quality.

The main challenge was that Photoshop customers had to learn various techniques to select objects using traditional tools that didn't have a semantic understanding of images. The objective was to develop a tool that understands the context of an image, making it easier to select objects with minimal errors.

Research and Constraints

Surveys and customer interviews from the Photoshop beta forum helped identify common object types, challenges with traditional selection tools, and users' needs. These insights were shared with cross-functional partners and machine learning researchers, who optimized models to produce better results.

The project's constraints were mainly dependent on the quality of ML models in detecting and selecting objects. Researchers iteratively trained the model to support customer use cases, and the team validated the model's performance.

Design Explorations and Outcomes

Different interaction models were explored, such as hovering on the canvas, showing a list of detected objects, or leveraging zoom levels to reveal detected objects. Prototypes were built and tested iteratively through unmoderated and moderated interviews.

Exploration: Different methods of setting object detection sensitivity
Exploration: Create layer masks for all detected objects in the image
Exploration: Object Selection tool on Photoshop for iPad

The final design focused on the following features:

  1. One-click selection of objects in images.
  2. Batch creation of masks for detected objects.
  3. Collecting user input to improve selection quality.

With the Object Selection tool, image editing became more intuitive, allowing customers to work with objects rather than pixels.

Customers can set behavior and visuals for detected objects from the option bar
Select all objects in the image using a button. It generates a layer mask for each object.
Option to detect details in people, for example, clothes or body parts
Select details in people
Tool behavior when GPU is not available to use
Design for collecting customer feedback on selection quality
Design spec: Feedback modal
Hover to see what’s detected from the image. Click to select the detected object.
An alternative way of selecting objects. Output detected objects as layer masks.

Results and Impact

The Object Selection tool has become one of the most used tools in Photoshop products, offering significant benefits:

  • A paradigm shift in image editing from pixels to objects.
  • A more straightforward and efficient first step in editing images in Photoshop.

By incorporating AI and machine learning into the selection process, Photoshop has revolutionized image editing, making it more accessible and efficient for users.


Photoshop adds an extremely helpful AI subject selection tool
Plus, cloud PSD files to sync with Photoshop for iPad.